Italians Explore West Greenland Coast

Posted on: December 30, 2009

White Seagulls (5c [5.10a], 10 pitches, 400m) marked in red, descent marked in green, on the south side of Qingussaq Island, off the west coast of Greenland. The route is one of two new lines established by Michele Maggioni and Daniele Bernasconi last summer. [Photo] Michele Maggioni

Michele Maggioni and Daniele Bernasconi established two long moderates off the west coast of Greenland while exploring the relatively uncharted region they described as "the Alps... transplanted into the sea!"

Mountain guides Maggioni and Bernasconi had sailed to Baffin Island on the vessel Billy Bud in 2006 and climbed five new routes. This summer they boarded the same boat in Aasiaat, Greenland to survey the fjords between Umanak and Upernavik around Disko Island, part of Qioge Peninsula, for two weeks in July.


"Like on Baffin, the idea was to explore the area, make some first ascents and, above all, have fun," Maggioni wrote. "The weather was on our side—without the bothersome cold and humid fog, which meant we could navigate without heavy clothing and see (and avoid!) the numerous icebergs."

The result was two new high-quality granite rock climbs above 70 degrees latitude North. Both routes were established all clean in a push on "beautiful cracks or super slabs," Maggioni said, and had pleasant walk-offs back to the boat.

Bernasconi on the excellent granite of Pavlova (6a [5.10b], 11 pitches, 520m) on the south side of Adgap Island, Greenland. [Photo] Michele Maggioni

The pair climbed Pavlova (6a [5.10b], 11 pitches, 520m) on the south side of Adgap Island on July 20 with Maria Cristina Rapisardi, the owner of Billy Bud. Three days later the same trio climbed through White Seagulls (5c [5.10a], 10 pitches, 400m) on the south side of Qingussaq, a small island north of Upernavik.

They also summited an 1831-meter peak on Qioqe Peninsula that Kurt Diemberger, who first explored the area in 1966, climbed that year.

Maggioni climbing in Umanak Island. [Photo] Giovanni Christofori

Though Greenland's west coast is not completely new to climbers, only a handful of routes have been established there, despite enormous potential, Maggioni said.

"From the summit we managed to see the incredible number of mountains in this area," he said. "Wonderful mountains like European Alps, and we think that is possible to realize a lot of really amazing climbs in this area."

Source: Michele Maggioni (email)

A walk-off on Umanak Island. [Photo] Giovanni Christofori

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